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Rahul Bhat was anything but a ‘Sanghi’: How his murder shows the ‘political’ problem of Kashmir is nothing but a cover for Jihad

Rahul Bhat was an ordinary citizen in the valley and was anything but a 'Sanghi'. Neither was he a participant in Hindu politics in the valley, nor did he express his ideological affiliations openly. Yet, he was killed simply for being Hindu.

Days after Kashmiri Hindu youth Rahul Bhat was shot dead by Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists, heartwarming pictures of him with his family, are making waves on social media. One of his pictures from his Facebook account has been particularly revealing, giving an insight into his political inclination.

Picture from Rahul Bhat’s Facebook that has gone viral.

Rahul Bhat in this picture could be seen supporting the cause of Rohingya Muslims, who fled Myanmar after a military crackdown on them in October 2016. Bhat, in his profile picture dated September 7, 2017, on Facebook, could be seen with a filter saying ‘Stop Killing of Rohingya Muslims’. Now, the reader might ask what the picture says about the personal politics of a slain Kashmiri Hindu.

Ideally – it should tell nothing, as reading too much from the personal life of a terror victim would not do justice to him or his family. However, it is amply clear that Bhat was not an apostle for Hindutva or Hindu political causes in the valley. Because, by the standard of secularism and liberalism set by the Indian ‘liberals’ any ‘Sanghi’ would never quite care about ‘Muslims’.

Scrolling through his Facebook feed, we see Bhat sharing vintage pictures of Kashmiri Hindus living in the valley, scenes from the local vistas and a rare picture of a 15-year-old Jawaharlal Nehru sporting a Janeu. Moreover, in solidarity with the Muslim community, he even went further to support the causes of Rohingyas with a Facebook filter on his profile. To judge Bhat over his political leaning by a mere scrolling of his social media profile is not the aim of this article.

However, as often pressed by separatists and Islamic terrorists in the valley, it is often the supporters of the Indian state and those who assert their Hindu identity are victimised for their acts. A picture is painted that because people in the valley are opposed to the ‘advances of the Indian State’ and ‘the politics of Hindu aggression’, they take up ‘militancy’ (read terrorism) in revenge. Hence, an argument is often made that because the local Kashmiris are opposed to the Indian worldview, the problem of Kashmir is a political one and not a religious one.

The gruesome killing of Rahul Bhat, however, shows us the real picture. Bhat was an ordinary citizen in the valley and was anything but a ‘Sanghi’. Neither was he a participant in Hindu politics in the valley, nor did he express his ideological affiliations openly. Yet, he was killed simply for being Hindu. The characterization of being a Sanghi – a supporter of RSS/BJP or that of a ‘Pandit’ – being a Hindu in Kashmir, converge here in being targets of Islamic terrorism.

This reflects the mindset of the terrorists in the valley in two ways – one that monickers like ‘Sanghi’, ‘Agents of the India State’, ‘Fascists’, etc are used as covers to target the Hindu population in the union territory. The second reason opens itself to be blatant that the war in Kashmir is nothing but a religious one – with strict Jihadist overtones.

One only remembers that once a magazine backed by the terrorist organisation ISIS released an issue in November 2021 issuing a direct threat to Hindu worship sites. The magazine cover had a computer-generated broken idol of Bhagwan Shiva with the tagline “It’s time to break false Gods”. Earlier, terrorist organisations have been unapologetic in their targeting of Hinduism and Dharmic faiths. Thus, the exercise to paint Kashmir as a ‘political problem’ only serves as an intellectual justification for underlying Jihadist dreams of Pakistan-backed separatists, Islamist extremists and Terrorists active in the valley.

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